"Teenage angst like you've never seen it before." -- MTV.com
Walker Callaghan doesn't know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago...and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.
Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.
She doesn't go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.
These high school kids are now caught in a strange "in-between" zone where life hasn't changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. "There are even cheerleaders in death," Walker observes. It's not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who "used to have this band." The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.
Principal King explains the rules -- there are none. Why? You can't die twice.
There is no homework.
You're just there to learn because the human brain isn't fully formed until you're 24.
By the way, you can't get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do ...because no one knows how long you'll stay in this realm or what's next.
"Losing someone you love would be like dying twice," Walker says.
* * * * * *
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. "Is this hell or is this high school?" she asks.
She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He's looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.
He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.
Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.
Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?
At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.
About C.L. Gaber
I’m C.L. Gaber, an author and film journalist for the New York Times Syndicate and Chicago Sun Times. I also co-authored Jex Malone series. Originally from Chicago, I make my home in Nevada with my husband, bonus daughter and two unruly dogs.
My husband knows that Ascenders began with me in bathroom half the night writing on tiny notepads because I didn’t want to wake him. When daylight did roll around, I told him, ”Baby, I had the most incredible dream”.
Scientists don’t always agree on many things because that’s their gig. But most will inform you that the human brain doesn’t fully form until you’re 24-years-old. It’s explains a hell of a lot of things including why we do such reckless and unforgettable things when we’re growing up.
It also begs the question: What happens to those who die young? Where does all that reckless energy and boundless potential go? Does it just get snuffed out…or does it ascend to another realm?
One foggy night in California, I had a dream about that and it played out in my mind like a movie. The dream starred characters named Walker and Daniel, but it also touched on my own youth in suburban Illinois, outside of Chicago. I remembered the moment when I grew up, officially. I was 17 and sitting in my backyard with my big black door Bear on a hot, humid summer night wondering why a friend from high school died on his motorcycle. It seemed unbelievable at 17 that Scott was gone – and I barely even knew this kid. But it still bothered me deeply.
Why was it every school year, we lost one or two teenagers to everything from drugs to suicide to reckless type of accidents? As an adult, I began to ask my friends who also heard such life changing news about one or two kids every single school year. Who doesn’t remember those high school announcements from your principal sounding terribly uncomfortable while telling the student body that we lost one our own last night. These were the kids who would never graduate, go to college, get married, have children or live out their lives.
Of course, school counselors were available, but as a student journalist back then and then a journalist later on, they never answered my real questions.
THE ASCENDERS SAGA tells the story of teens who died young, and a special limbo they arrive in that’s not very different from their life on earth. Why? If your brain isn’t pumping on all cylinders until you’re 24, I figured that you have some time to still be a teenager, but in a world with absolutely no rules. Imagine it: All that energy and you could do anything you wanted, but there would be no real consequences. Falling in love, however, would be dangerous. What if you ascended before him or her? In many ways, that would be like a second death.
In the end, it’s not really about loss. Or even death.
It’s about living the moments. Here. There. Everywhere.
I invite you to come on this journey with me.
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon
[…] J.R.’s Book Reviews – Spotlight […]